I was going to write a post today about how my confidence has grown and how my punk rock upbringing is catering to my coming out and being myself and “yeah fuck you man I’m me” but that would have been a bold faced lie. You know what the actual truth is? I’m not confident, I need constant validation, and every single time I’m misgendered or dead named it hurts more and more. What used to be a small tinge is a noticeable wince whenever someone uses the wrong name or pronoun and every single thing about me that I deem an imperfection makes me want to crawl into a dark cave and never come out ever again. You know how some people have “phantom limb” pains? Well I have “phantom beard shadow”.
I’m far enough along that misgendering doesn’t happen as much as it used to but when it does it’s like someone took a bamboo cane and wacked me across the knees. It pops up when you least expect it too. I was at the DMV yesterday to finally get my license updated (I had to leave because I forgot my check book, lesson learned) and the woman at the desk called me sir even after I showed her the form to get my gender changed on my license. That one didn’t even hurt at first, that was just so out there that I was just in shock about it. Sure enough though, BLAM, right in the knees, and these hits don’t easily heal. A woman asked me today for some spare change and she said, after some deliberation, “sir” BANG another hit. Every “him” “his” “sir” and “he” is another pin and another bruise. Think of all the uncertainty and awkwardness of puberty then add in the additional level of people not only regularly calling you something you’re not but calling you something that you are so actively trying to run from. Every single thing I do, say, or see that reminds me of who I once was and who I don’t ever want to be again just hurts and the world just seems to love throwing all of that back at me like some sadistic fun house mirror.
Everyone has their pain points. No person’s pain point is more painful than any other. We all carry plenty of burdens and not all of them can be understood or accurately expressed. This is why trigger warnings and showing respect are so important. This isn’t about holding hands or dealing with these “snowflake millenials” and shit, no, this is people’s fucking lives and having some goddamn sympathy for people who haven’t lived their lives like you’ve lived yours. I’ve had a pretty solid support group among those I know, but just once I’d like to go out and have some complete stranger call me ma’am or miss without me needing to correct them first. Shit, it’s so goddamn bad that I’d even settle for some prick cat calling me because at the very least I would look female enough for that to happen. How fucked up is that!? “Yes, please, dehumanize and objectify me in public because that situation is preferable to my sometimes paralyzing dysphoria.” That’s my dysphoria though, it’s a soul eating monster that shits me right out if I’m not careful. Every single day it just takes up so much of my time and energy. Those closest to me can attest to just how much sheer validation I need and it’s really embarrassing.
Are things getting better? Yes, they are, with each passing day I can look in a mirror and not hate what I see or at the very least hate it less. Each passing day the phantom beard shadow fades and the massive spot of thin hair I have on my head fills in. Every day I’m misgendered less and every day I feel more like I’m in a body that I, while don’t entirely love, at least don’t absolutely detest. Like anything in life, dysphoria is another thing that some of us face. It makes us who we are and if we don’t let it beat us we come out stronger albeit with a SHIT TON of scars. Will this defeat me? I’m too damn stubborn for it to and again I’m fortunate enough to have my support group. Every day is another leg of an uphill battle. Sometimes I get pinged in the head by a rock and slide down a bit, but I’m able to get a foot hold again. Granted, I also hate, on a deeply visceral level, the person I used to be. Is self loathing a fucked up motivation? Lordy yes, but it’s keeping me going a bit and I have my support to get me the rest of the way. Things will be better, sure, but while they don’t suck nearly as much as they used to it’s still a constant fight that I’m going to be having for the rest of my life and that’s something I’ve come to terms with.